It’s no big secret that children are picky eaters. If chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese were on the menu every day, how easy parents’ lives would be. But a diet high in processed and refined foods, and low in fruits and veggies has far reaching consequences, especially on little bodies.
First, the more children don’t eat fruits and veggies, the more likely they’ll not want to eat them later in life.
Second, a diet low in fruits and veggies means a diet low in many nutrients and fiber.
Third, when children don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, they get constipated.
A recent study found that primary school children who didn’t like fruits and vegetables were 13 times more likely to develop functional constipation than children who did like fruits and veggies. As a parent, you might not even realize your child is constipated. Maybe your children are in school or day care, so you can’t keep track of every potty break. Ask about their bowel movements. At least one healthy bowel movement daily (quantity counts!) is an indication that they are not constipated.
Studies are finding that constipation in children is increasing. This is largely due to dietary habits, including water intake. Children who drank less than 400mL (13.5 ounces) of fluid daily were also more likely to be constipated.
Be persistent in trying new veggies from time to time. Children’s tastes change, and often, a veggie that was detested last month seems to go down without a hitch the next. For the pickiest of eaters, there are many recipes out there that help you “hide” the veggies by adding them to other foods in stealthy ways. You may even find yourself trying new veggies by using these tricks.
In addition, a fiber supplement can help increase stool bulk and promote bowel regularity. Look for a great tasting fruit and veggie fiber that can be mixed into a smoothie or added to juice.
It’s a daily struggle for moms and dads everywhere: getting kids to make healthy choices when all they want to do is gobble down fast food and spend hours in front of the television. But the good news is that by teaching them early about the importance of healthy dietary and lifestyle habits, you can give your children the tools they need to become healthier adults. Here are some quick tips to help you get started:
Don’t Forget the Fiber
A high-fiber diet provides countless benefits for growing bodies, including heart health, better digestion, and even healthy weight management. Fiber-rich foods help manage hunger by supporting healthy blood sugar levels, and they typically have a lower energy density (the number of calories in a particular volume of food) than foods with fewer grams of fiber, which means they pack fewer calories per bite. Most experts recommend that kids eat their “age plus 5” in grams of fiber every day, so a natural fiber supplement can help make up for what they don’t get from their diet.
Prepare Healthy Snacks Beforehand
Sure, store-bought snacks are convenient, but are they healthy? For most pre-packaged goodies, the answer is no. Instead, many are heavily processed and contain high amounts of refined sugar but very little nutritional value. Your best bet is to set aside some time each week to prepare healthy snack options—think chopped fruits and veggies, cheese slices or homemade trail mix—them keep them on hand in the fridge or pantry for a quick, wholesome snack anytime.
According to the National Institutes of Health, kids should get at least one hour of physical exercise every day to help build healthy bones and keep muscles and joints strong and flexible. Regular exercise can also help burn calories and promote healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Getting active can also help ease stress, increase mental clarity and boost their self-esteem—not to mention help kids sleep better at night!
Set the Example
When all is said and done, the surest way to teach kids about better habits is to set the example. Make healthy eating and regular exercise a part of your daily life, and be sure to talk to your kids about good nutrition and how it will help their bodies now and in the future. The more they know, the healthier your kids will be, and soon making smart choices will be second nature!